Reflections: RMCLAS 2015

The annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies (RMCLAS) brought scholars to Tucson, Arizona for four days of insightful conversation, networking, and professional development. This year’s conference, held April 8-11 at the Marriot on the campus of the University of Arizona, was especially beneficial for students of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

In addition to many high quality panels on the study of Mexico (for which RMCLAS has become recognized) and a wide variety of presentations on other Latin American topics, the conference featured a special repertoire of activities related to la frontera, the human rights crisis, and broader discussions of frontiers in the study of Latin America. On Thursday night, RMCLASistas heard from local and regional human rights organizations working on issues related to indigenous and migrant rights, especially in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands. The following evening, conference attendees enjoyed music and spoken word to benefit No más muertes, an organization working to prevent migrant deaths in the desert. During Saturday’s closing reception, RMCLAS recognized Robert Nuestadt, Director of Latin American Studies at Northern Arizona University, for his teaching, research, and activism, including his instrumental (both meanings intended) role in “Border Songs,” a collection music and poetry whose proceeds fund the distribution of water jugs in the desert.

Earlier in the day, Nuestadt also joined Celeste Gonzáles de Bustamante, Linda Green, and Shelli Rottschafer for a unique conversation, “Teaching the Border: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Pedagogy of the U.S.-Mexican Border.” Chaired by Tracy Goode, the panelists discussed the challenges and benefits to taking students to the border and, when the former is not possible, the use of music and images to bring the border to them. Conference attendees interested in the border also had the opportunity to visit it themselves on an organized tour to Nogales, Sonora, unfortunately scheduled at the same time as the above-mentioned roundtable.

RMCLAS 2016 will be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For more information, visit

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Conference Notes: Nuestra América: Rethinking Fronteras in US History, A Conference Honoring the Career of Vicki L. Ruiz

Women’s History Month is slowly coming to a close. This month the Borderlands History Interview Project chose to focus on the career of Vicki L. Ruiz, a pioneer in women’s history of the borderlands. We were not the only ones who thought to celebrate Ruiz. The University of California, Irvine’s convocation of the Nuestra América: Rethinking Fronteras in US History, A Conference Honoring the Career of Vicki L. Ruiz sought to do just that! What follows is a brief recounting of the conference and a discussion of the influence Ruiz continues to have in the academy.

At the Nuesta América conference, Dr. Margie Brown-Coronel asked the audience “What Would Vicki Do (WWVD)?” Well, she’d do a lot. She’s the outgoing president of the Organization of American Historians and the current president of the American Historical Association. In the past Vicki Ruiz was president of the Pacific Coast Branch of the AHA, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and the American Studies Association. What else would she do? She authored and edited over a dozen books and articles on the history of Mexican-American women and men in the United States. In 2012, she was the first Latina to be inducted into the Academy of Arts and Sciences. At the end of March, Ruiz will be celebrated by the National Women’s History Project as a Women’s History month honoree. Her scholarship would center the lives of Chicanas and Latinas in the United States history and foreground the importance of the borderlands in this larger narrative. While her career, scholarship, and service have garnered the attention of the academy for decades, her teaching and mentorship also reveal all that Vicki has done and continues to do. Continue reading

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Parents of 43 Mexican Student Kidnaping Victims begin United States Tour in El Paso, Texas

A group representing the parents of the 43 students kidnapped in late September in Guerrero, Mexico will visit El Paso on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 to speak to about their children’s experiences and about the human rights violations occurring in Mexico.

The parent’s visit to El Paso forms part of a national speaking tour of the United States Continue reading

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Remembering Camille Guérin-Gonzales

“Camille Guérin-Gonzales died on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, at Agrace Hospice Care in Madison, after 14 months of living exuberantly, purposefully, and consciously with a cancer diagnosis that she never let define her…”

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Borderlands History Interview Project Presents Dr. Vicki L. Ruiz

On Friday, February 13, 2015, I had the privilege and distinct honor of interviewing Dr. Vicki Ruiz, Chicana scholar, historian, and professor at the University of California, Irvine. This was the second interview in our Borderlands History Interview Project (BHIP) and it was marvelous. We discussed her views on balancing work and life, her current projects, her take on borderlands history and its significance within the canon, as well as critical intersections between race, gender, and class within our scholarship and the academy.

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Crossing an Uneven Terrain: Capital, Labor, and State Power in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

The U.S.-Mexico border is a region of overlapping contact zones, an interstitial space where economic, political, social, cultural, and individual exchanges occur across the international boundary on a daily basis. Amid this personal and communal fluidity, however, the border also exists as an entity fixed by diplomatic treaty, militarization, and police enforcement as government agencies erect physical barriers for the abstract lines drawn across this area of North America. While state surveillance and regulation seek to make the region divisible, it is a project contested by the millions of undocumented immigrants, and others, who regularly defy its reductive processes. How the border is viewed and the vantage point from which it is observed are important subjective factors in a discussion of this area. In many ways, for the people who actually live in the borderlands, the national debate emanating from Washington and Mexico City can often appear astoundingly detached from the exigencies of everyday life. Continue reading

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UTEP Borderlands Conference Call For Papers EXTENDED


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Book Review: Riding Lucifer’s Line

Riding Lucifer’s Line. Ranger Deaths along the Texas-Mexico Border. By Bob Alexander. (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2013. Pp. xxvi +404. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $29.95 hardback)


Much can be discerned about any organization through its members or employees, in this case the Texas Rangers. Personal histories provide unique insights that so often supplement the more mundane but nonetheless necessary bureaucratic and institutional overlay. In the case of Bob Alexander’s Riding Lucifer’s Line, the book’s subtitle Ranger Deaths along the Texas-Mexico Border provides an intimate insight into the unique personal histories that he will detail in the book. The author also describes the subtitle as “purposefully unambiguous.” Continue reading

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Borderlands History Interview Project Presents Dr. Ernesto Chávez

The Borderlands History Interview Project (BHIP) will showcase the voices of respected historians in our field to discuss their current projects and views on the future of borderlands history. We’re excited about this new venture and look forward to your comments!

While at the 2015 American Historical Association conference in New York City earlier this month, I was able to sit down with Dr. Ernesto Chávez, Associate Professor at the University of Texas, El Paso, to discuss his latest project and his take on borderlands history. He graciously accepted to be the first interviewee in our BHIP series, highlighting scholars who are changing and challenging our field. We nestled into the Hilton hotel conference room chairs, and trying not to disturb the other historians gathered charging their phones and frantically answering emails, we began our interview about his life, his new project, and the history and future of borderlands.
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Call for Book/Article Titles for Borderlands History Blog Historiography

Calling all BHB followers: As the 2015 school year begins, we here at the Blog are looking to update the page’s historiography sections and we need your help. What 2013/2014 texts and articles do you feel should be included on our page? As always, we welcome interdisciplinary and comparative borderlands submissions. Submit your favorite/relevant works on Facebook, Twitter, or at and we will add them to the Blog. If you have posted before you can just add them to the pertinent sections. Happy New Year!

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